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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Reviewing the Democrat Rules Committee Meeting Thus Far; More Coverage of the Rules Committee Hearing
Aired May 31, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There is no doubt a recent incident that talk of Michael Pfleger played a significant role with what's happening right now. It has been termed as, really, a member resigning from the church. It's one of the reasons why he sits as a member -- due to the church.
But clearly this has been a troublesome issue for the Obama campaign because -- you know, from a campaign standpoint, any time something is said, everything simply goes back to Obama's church, Obama's church, Obama's church, so from there day forward, no longer being a member, when something is said or something is preached, folks have decided that, well, this perhaps (INAUDIBLE) Obama's former church.
So we still have to (INAUDIBLE) a copy of the letter and so I have not talked to the Obama campaign as of yet. Also we keep calling into the church pastor (INAUDIBLE), I'm only getting voicemail so far.
BROWN: All right. Roland, we're going to check back in to you when you get to a land line and get a little more information as well.
And as I mentioned earlier, we're covering two big stories at the moment and we should also mention that the committee -- we had told you previously -- they were meeting behind closed doors. Well, they are beginning to file back into the room at this very moment. So we may have some information for you shortly. It's going to take them a few minutes for them to get back into the room.
So let me resume with our panel for a minute and ask you guys to comment on what Roland was telling us, because, you know, what's striking to me, in part, about this Obama story is, you know, we've heard the statistic. Something like one in 10 Americans believe he is a Muslim.
And Suzanne, as you know, part of the campaign strategy has been to highlight his relationship with the church and in the general election campaign reintroduce him, you know, as a Christian to Americans, and here you have his church at the same time being this albatross.
MALVEAUX: One of the main problems that they've been having and they're really trying to make that adjustment to the general election is the fact that they have to define and redefine Barack Obama to the larger community. And there've been some real stumbles here. He'd started off very strong with his life story about coming from humble means, a biracial background, somebody who really inspired a lot of people. The Reverend Wright story really put them back quite a bit. And ever since they've been really trying to put out this new type of candidate and it's even more important now. I mean this -- the stakes are a lot higher because they moved beyond the primary, they're looking at the general election. They may already feel like they're behind, that McCain has already established himself with this, you know, war hero, kind of national security person, that he has to take on.
And he's got a lot of handicaps he has to deal with. And so that's been an ongoing struggle and so this did set them back this week.
TOOBIN: Although I do think for all that Reverend Wright and that controversy got a lot of attention, it hasn't really affected him in the polls that much. He has continued to win the primaries against Hillary Clinton that he was expected to win. He's remained ahead of her in the polls nationally, in fact, has somewhat expanded his lead. He's very close with McCain nationally in the polls.
So it's not like this has been a total disaster for him. But, obviously, it has not been helpful and I think the resignation is an attempt to kind of put the whole issue behind him so he doesn't have to deal with whatever is said in the church on into the fall.
BROWN: Do you agree with that, Ron?
KIRK: I think this clearly signals that the campaign has moved to a general election strategy. I mean -- and I know this has got to be painful for him and Michelle personally, but if you're doing it, it's better that you're doing it now in the middle of the summer.
We get that behind us, at least while I'm trying to get some of the body language of the delegate, if we can get this resolved and he can go forward, and as Suzanne said, begin to express himself to the American public in a way in which he gets to define himself rather than deal with this distraction.
ZIMMERMAN: You know, we talked before the break about the moral and social aspects of the issue. But I think -- follow up of what Ron said, I think the fact that Senator Obama and Michelle have navigated through this political crisis so well and, in fact, it really has not impacted them in the polls from the Democratic nomination I think really does speak to his strength.
And, obviously, he has taken a lot of shots, a lot of attacks, questions about his faith and his patriotism, and he's handled it extremely well. Especially when John McCain tried to attack his patriotism, he came back and talked about how he was supporting the new G.I. Bill of Rights that John McCain was opposing.
I though that showed that this is not a man -- Barack Obama -- who will be swift boated.
BROWN: All right. And we -- again, as we are watching this committee file -- covering the other story we've been talking about, the DNC rules meeting, watching the committee file back into the room. Wolf Blitzer with us here as well. And Wolf, we want to get your take on all this as well.
BLITZER: Well, it's major news -- the Barack Obama and Michelle Obama resigning from their church in Chicago. That's going to cause quite a stir out there, and as Roland points out, coming in the aftermath of that Catholic priest, Father Pfleger, and his remarks about Hillary Clinton, mocking her so publicly. He, Father Pfleger, was rebuked himself by the cardinal, by the -- the archbishop in Chicago for his politization, if you will, of a Sunday sermon.
This is a serious business that Barack Obama has done right now. So we're going to continue to watch the fallout.
And as you can see, Campbell, the people -- the members of the rules committee are now beginning to sit down around that table over at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., about two hours after they were supposed to reconvene after a late lunch.
You can see them now beginning to sit down. I'm sure that the co- hairs, Alexis Herman, former labor secretary during the Clinton administration, and James Roosevelt Jr., the grandson of the late president of the United States, they'll be convening this session.
There's our own Donna Brazil over there together with Robert Wexler, the congressman from Florida, in the middle was Elaine Kamarck, who served in the Clinton administration, worked for both Al Gore and Bill Clinton at the White House.
These are some of the members of the rules committee. It's interesting that some of the members of the rules committee are supporters of Barack Obama, others are supporters of Hillary Clinton, and others are undeclared like our own Donna Brazil. You see her right there. He made a very passionate speech -- Robert Wexler -- before the panel on behalf the Obama campaign, saying seat those delegates in Florida, but give them half of the numbers that they were supposed to get if that's going to be the compromise, to punish Florida for moving up it's primary in violation of DNC rules.
It's going to be very interesting to see what the two co-chairmen of this panel, how they open up this session right now, and update us on what their agenda is, what they're going to do. Will we be hearing from these members? Will there be formal votes? Will there be a debate? Or did they actually work it out behind closed doors and resolve both Michigan and Florida in the last couple hours?
Everybody agrees that resolving Florida would be somewhat easier than resolving Michigan where Barack Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot. So we're just as anxious as anyone to know what's going on and presumably we'll know pretty soon.
I will point out -- I'd be interested to know what your panel thinks, Campbell. I saw a lot of people coming back and sitting down smiling. I don't know if they're smiling because they have a deal or they're just happy to move on.
BROWN: You know, it's funny, Ron made the same observation as you, Wolf, in terms of maybe they're just happy to have wrapped this thing up or...
TOOBIN: Maybe Ron.
BROWN: Maybe Ron is just happy, you know, hoping, wishful thinking...
KIRK: It's 6:00, Ron turned into a pumpkin. I'm (INAUDIBLE) -- no, but their body language does not look like a group that's coming in prepared to have to go to war.
BROWN: Well, they...
BROWN: And they were very tense...
BROWN: ... when they walked out of that room.
KIRK: But it looks -- it looks like a group that looks comfortable with the decision that they've made. I'm hopeful that that's a good sign.
ZIMMERMAN: The morning presentations were -- the morning presentations were tense and the questions being asked by the Rules and Bylaws Committee members were very tense and very pointed. And they're certainly smiling a lot more now than they were in the beginning of the day. That's a good sign, but of course, being a Democrat, I don't exactly suffer from overconfidence, so I'm not jumping to any conclusions too far yet.
KIRK: We are capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
ZIMMERMAN: That is true.
KIRK: But I would say, I also think this morning -- and I'm not knocking the process, because I loved this. But a lot of this morning was necessary. Look, if you're the governor, senator, elected official in Michigan and Florida, you don't want to go on national TV and say, hey, yes, we screwed up, it was all our fault, throw my people's votes out.
A lot of what we saw this morning was sort of playing the theater, if you will, that folks had to come in and very aggressively make the case for those votes to be counted. But I think they all knew and understand, and again as both Jeff and Rob have pointed out, that there is a great appreciation for the seriousness of this job on the members of this committee.
And they are looking at this from the standpoint of protecting the franchise of the Democratic Party and not just from Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton's perspective.
TOOBIN: And I think it's -- just saying, it is a very hard question, what to do with these delegates. This does not have an immediately obvious answer.
TOOBIN: You have many millions of votes cast, but clearly you had rules that were violated and to balance both the need to have the Democratic Party exert some authority over the process, and not to disenfranchise millions of people in two very important states, you know, it's not obvious. And that's why they have struggled with this.
MALVEAUX: And one thing about these two states, Michigan and Florida, is they're two of five states where the Democrats were outnumbered by the Republicans who actually participated in the primary which speaks to the popular vote. There are a lot of people who -- I know the Clinton campaign argues that she's won in the popular vote and that a lot of people came out in record numbers.
But it also spoke to a lot of people who felt that they weren't a part of the process and perhaps you look at it, is it had been opened up and sanctioned that you would have seen a lot more activity.
TOOBIN: And that's been one of the Obama campaign's strongest argument about this whole process, that as these campaigns were happening there was a great deal of attention in the public, including some statements by Hillary Clinton herself that these primaries won't matter. So it did the opposite of encourage turnout, it told people, don't bother.
ZIMMERMAN: But you know, it's interesting, as Suzanne pointed out, the turnout wasn't a record number, and Jeff's correct in his analysis as well. But the turnout still was very strong. But you know, part of the challenge here is not just protecting the rights of the voters in these two states, but also respecting the other 48 states that followed the rules and that's the balance here.
And, of course, you can't ignore the political ramifications of how can the Democratic Party really be unified and be successful if we're not going to make sure that the Democrats in Michigan and Florida feel very much a part of the process and feel very included in this process.
BROWN: Where do you think they go from here in terms of the bigger picture?
I mean Carl Levin said this is -- you know, this isn't about much more than this moment for us. We've had it with New Hampshire and Iowa running the show, essentially, which is bottom line.
KIRK: With all due respect to Senator Levin, then Senator Levin needs to run for chairman as the Democratic National Committee and wage a...
BROWN: And change the rules by working within the rules.
KIRK: Persuasive campaign within that. But in terms of where we're -- I still believe, and I'm moderately confident that Barack Obama's going to be the nominee. When we start talking more about the huge differences between Senator Obama and John McCain on the war, on the economy, and the excitement that's going to come with all of these new voters that Senator Obama has brought into the process, I'm still confident that we're going to be fine.
People's feelings are going to be hurt for a while. But I think by November that a lot of this energy is going to be translated into electing and putting a progressive minded Democrat back into the White House.
TOOBIN: Look at the rare moments of unity on this panel today, was there rejection of the Michigan proposal, especially when they acknowledged that the -- it was in violation, that even the -- Mark Brewer who chairs the Michigan Democratic Party said it wasn't based on any of the existing rules of the Democratic Party and he serves on the Rules and Bylaws Committee.
So I think there really is -- because of that and a recognition that if Carl Levin and Mark Brewer want to change the primary process, they just can't do it unilaterally. They have to do it -- try again when the calendar is set four years from now.
MALVEAUX: And one of the things I'm hearing from DNC officials -- I was recently back in Iowa and some of the folks there in Iowa for the Democratic Party say, you know what? We really do need to reexamine the calendar, that it just started too -- much too early. And they talked about just a little example of, like, volunteers who were -- got to car crashes in the snow and the ice on the roads of Iowa, the back roads, because it was just hurried and it was too long and it was too early.
And that they just want to reexamine next time around, let's take another look at the calendar. Does this really make sense?
TOOBIN: I've been reading this extraordinary book, "Nixonland," about American politics between 1964 and 1972. And one of the things you realize about the primaries, particularly the famous New Hampshire primary of 1968, it was in March, not January, and the fact that this -- that historically, the primaries have been in the spring, not in the winter. I think that's something that the party is going to want to re-evaluate.
ZIMMERMAN: I think also the party is going to look at very closely, if you want to forward -- fast forward into the future and planning ahead is the notion of how these caucuses are run, because, you know, our nominee has been picked so quickly for so long. We've had our nominees selected in March and no one really stopped to look at this process.
I think Al Gore won his nomination in March. John Kerry lined it up, I think, in February. And that is these caucuses, because of -- they're run by parties, are not run in a way that really enfranchise working families. They're three-hour long processes. They're not wheelchair accessible or they're accessible to those who are physically challenged.
ZIMMERMAN: And there's a real discrimination.
KIRK: I would say I love all of this. But all of this changes when somebody wins and loses. You know the...
BROWN: We all stop talking about it.
KIRK: When I lose, the process sucks, it's unfair, it's horrible. This is terrible, somebody's got to do something. And when I win, we look back a year from now, and say, wow, you know, this is the only way a kid like Barack Obama gets here. And every -- you know, we use -- everybody forgets we all believe that these early primary states didn't matter until this little hick farmer, former governor from Georgia that everybody made fun of decided, well, nobody else cares, I'll go to Iowa, I'll go to New Hampshire, everybody (INAUDIBLE).
BROWN: Right. All right. Hold on guys. We want...
TOOBIN: I'm just happy he called a 46-year-old a kid.
BROWN: All right, let me throw it back over to Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks, guys, very much.
Alexis Herman, one of the co-chairs of the DNC's Rules Committee. There she is right in the middle of the screen. She's a form labor secretary during the Clinton administration, about to bring this session -- resume this session two hours late. They were supposed to start at 4:15 p.m. Eastern after a late lunch. Now it's 6:15 p.m. Eastern here on the East Coast.
Tom Foreman is over there at the hearing.
Tom, are you getting any information about what may have happened behind closed doors?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Wolf, I am. Again, a single source in this case, and I want to be very careful about what we say here, says that there has been a deal worked out for Florida and for Michigan. The Florida deal allegedly would give 19 additional delegates to Hillary Clinton. This is what they talked about all morning long. Didn't know the details of the Michigan deal.
But allegedly something has been worked out. Now again, this may be something that has a lot of rough edges to it, that they still have to debate a lot in public. But that's what we know right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Well, if they have a deal, Michigan and Florida, that's big news and let's see what they say. Alexis Herman about ready to reconvene there. There's James Roosevelt, though. He is the co-chair.
JAMES ROOSEVELT JR., DNC RULES CMTE. CO-CHAIR: Thank you. The -- not only has there obviously been lunch, but -- we're on the second shift. But the -- but the members over lunch have reviewed the testimony and oral arguments that were given this morning and are ready to proceed to motions regarding each of the challenges. At their places, each of the members has a binder which includes the challenges themselves, the staff analysis that was sent out, various key dates and timelines, the charter and bylaws of the party of the delegate selection rules, the call, the regulations so that everyone has it for reference as we proceed with this debate.
ALEXIS HERMAN, DNC RULES CMTE. CO-CHAIR: We will conduct the motions to consider the challenges in the order that we heard the presentations this morning. So we will begin with the discussions on the state of Florida after we have motions and discussions put forth from members of the committee on the matters regarding the state of Florida. We will then move to a vote.
It is the recommendation of the co-chair since we have, obviously, had a great deal of discussion on this matter, in particular. We are recommending that we limit debate to 10 minutes promotion. We think that gives us ample time to hear both sides of the question as it will be presented before this committee.
So for the state of Florida, we essentially have two motions to consider. The first motion will speak to the question of the sanction of the revisiting of the automatic penalty that we have been asked to consider in the Ausman challenge and whether or not this committee and its wisdom would give consideration to supporting the positions in the Ausman challenge as presented to this committee.
Secondly, after discussing the first matter regarding the sanctions, we will then move to a consideration of the application of any proposed remedy.
So at this point, I will entertain a motion from committee members regarding the disposition of the state of Florida.
The chair recognizes Alice Huffman.
ALICE HUFFMAN, CALIF., CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Thank you, Madam Co- chair. I ask for your consideration to place a motion on the floor that we fully seat the Florida delegates.
HERMAN: I would -- just one moment, if you would not mind, Miss Huffman. I would kindly request in the interest of the debate and the deliberations that we have to engage in now as a committee, while we were very appreciative of the response and the support that we heard this morning, regarding the various positions, this is a moment where we do need to have the opportunity to hear one another very seriously.
So I would ask if the audience would please exercise some restraint in deference to these votes and this discussion that we must now engage in. And I would ask that for the supporters of both campaigns, from the supporters that I know who are here from the states of Florida and Michigan, and all of the other guests that we are pleased to have with us this evening.
HUFFMAN: As I said, my motion -- I won't repeat it, I don't want the noise again -- and to give them their full voting rights and, Madam Chair, if I get a second, I would like to speak to my motion.
HERMAN: It's been moved and second discussion. All those in favor -- I'm sorry, we have to move for discussion, we'll go to discussion. My error. My error. I'm really ready to go home. My error.
HUFFMAN: I would like to speak to the motion, Madam Chair. And I know everybody is tired...
HERMAN: You may speak to the motion as the maker of the motion. Please speak to the motion. Moved and seconded.
HUFFMAN: Madam Chair, I pointed out in both formal and informal discussions that -- and I'm sure I'm not alone but we've received hundreds of e-mails and letters and cards from people all across the country asking that we give Florida back it's full vote. As I listened to the testimony this morning, I heard the Democrats from the state indicate that they were not at fault, that they did the best they could.
And I do certainly have a lot of respect for the fact that in the final analysis given that we all do practical politics that they had to cast a vote to have a paper ballot because that is one of the sacred cannons of making sure that every vote counts in this next election.
And so given that they were not willing partners in this whole problem, that it was done by the Republicans, I think that we should not penalize them for something that they did not really cause or could not prevent.
Further, I think the voters in Florida are somewhat of a victim, given that they don't have anything to do with all of this that we have going on right here now, they're just simply people who go out and vote and do it in good faith, and a lot of them voted and obviously they want to be made whole for their vote.
I know that we're the rules committee and I know that we're the keeper of the rules and I know that this particular motion runs a little counter to what we'll do in 2012 and how we'll operate as a rules body in the future, and somebody downstairs asked me about that and I said, well, I don't know. You know at my age I could be dead in 2012 so I better just take care of today.
And today would suggest that we rule makers by virtue of the fact that we called this meeting, we called the meeting because we realized that we had to fix something about some rules, that we had to do something to keep our party and unite our party for November. And this really is about energizing the state of Florida, energizing the voters, and making sure that they have all that they need to do battle in a state that takes so much work to bring on our side of the roles in November.
And so, you know, as a person who's been out fighting for people's rights to vote, as many of us have at this table, and I just want to say to all of the audience, that some of us have had these discussions with each of our members at the table privately and there's not a person here who is not for everybody having their full vote and having their full right.
I want to say that on behalf of my committee members because this motion that I'm putting on the floor is no way meant to do -- to implicate any member of this committee, we just all have different values and different views. I believe that having gotten so much mail and having worked in civil rights for so long that it is important to let the voters know that we hear them and let them hear the discussion.
And so I believe that we should give them their full vote. We should reinstate all of them and not have any penalty and therefore my motion is before you.
HERMAN: Is there anyone else who wish to speak to this motion?
DAVID MCDONALD, WASH., UNDECLARED SUPERDELEGATE: Madam Chair?
HERMAN: David McDonald.
MCDONALD: I am -- I oppose the motion but I want to just take a moment to indicate why and to what extent. Essentially this motion would ask us to go back and redo a decision we made at a time when it wasn't complicated by campaign interests and it wasn't constrained by time and we investigated and, if anything, the question of whether the state of Florida met the standard for getting a waiver is weaker now than it was then given some of the additional documents that have been produced.
So I just can't, in good conscience, say to the state and to the national committee that that particular test was met. However, I feel like everybody else -- I think everybody else. Number one -- two things stand out to me. Number one, this is not a problem that the voters in Florida caused. It is a problem that impacts adversely both those who went to the polls and those who did not. That's the first fact that I just think is uncontrovertible.
The second thing that stands out is that whatever the situation was in 2007, at some point the Democrats in Florida elected officials, party, tried to get a revote. They tried to give their people an opportunity to vote within our rules. It just is very difficult at the time they're trying to do it.
But this ought to be a party in which at one -- we may have to take stands, but we welcome people back. I do not want to be in a situation where we say to the people in Florida, you tried, you tried to get back in and we don't care, because we do care. We do want them back.
So I'm going to vote against this motion, but I will willingly vote to get into lifting some of our discretionary sanctions in trying to help this thing come back together, but on this particular motion, I just cannot go with you. HERMAN: Yvonne Gates and then Tina Flournoy, and Alice Germond, and then I think it may be time for a vote.
YVONNE ATKINSON GATES, NEV., UNDECLARED SUPERDELEGATE: Madam Co- Chair, I just want to say that I, too, am not going to be able to vote for the motion. But in all fairness, I think it needs to be stated that what we were trying to do was to respect the rules.
Our decision that we're going to make actually is going to be to respect the rules and what happens in my opinion is, Florida did not follow the rules that we have set up. And it was the voter's fault. It was not and so we're not trying to, at least in my opinion, to penalize those individuals.
But when you have rules, they must be followed and if they're not followed then you have chaos. And I don't think that's what we want to see occur in 2012. And so with that, I won't be able to support the motion.
HERMAN: Thank you. Tina Flournoy.
HARTINA FLOURNOY, DC, CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Thank you, Madam Secretary. And I would just like to say thank you to Alice Huffman who has, throughout yesterday, last night and today, kept us focused on the fact that she wanted to make sure that this vote and this issue got a hearing before this committee.
We are going to take a vote on whether or not we should seat -- whether or not we should seat Florida, the entire delegate its full vote. It has no chance of passing this body. That saddens me. It does. I understand rules. I've lived with them for a long time. I understand their perfections and imperfections, but I can tell you one thing that has driven these rules, or at least I thought one of the things that drove these rules, was being a party of inclusion.
And I'm saddened by...
FLOURNOY: I'm just saddened by the fact that we will take a vote. This does not bring Michigan back in with full vote...
FLOURNOY: Florida. Michigan's weighing heavy on my brain. That Florida, we're not bringing back in with a full vote. I wish we could vote differently. I wish my colleagues would vote differently and I would just like to go on the record as saying it's something I will strongly support even though I know it will not prevail in this committee.
HERMAN: Alice Germond.
ALICE GERMOND, WV UNDECLARED SUPERDELEGATE: Thank you, madam secretary. Many, many, it seems, many moons ago, we sat down together to write the rules for our party to select our nominee, the next president of the United States. We ended up with a great group of candidates and I think we're all incredibly proud of them.
But before we even knew who our candidates might be, we had to make some hard decisions. About your rules, about fairness, about principle, and we did. We also struggled and we struggled hard with how to make sure that these rules had some meat, that they meant something, that they weren't just an idle activity that we would spend many afternoons doing, but rather that there was force behind them.
And we put in automatic sanctions and the reason, frankly, I think, my friends is that we put in these automatic sanctions was because we didn't want to have presidential impact later on. They were automatic, 50 percent, period, end of story, at least the way I read our rules that say "shall."
We now find ourselves talking about not just the 100 percent taking away of these delegations, which I do not support, and we will stalk about that shortly, but instead, giving 100 percent back to unsanctioned beauty contests that we told the voters had no meaning.
We have all come here from many, many paths. I was incredibly proud many years ago to as a student come down to the mall and listen to Martin Luther King give his great speech. We all struggled for civil rights. I was incredibly proud to have been part of the group of groups who helped put our first female vice presidential candidate on the ticket. I love this party. I love my job as secretary. And I look forward to calling the role with all 50 states.
And we must respect all 50 states and that includes the 48 who abided by our rules. Our rules are how we in dignity govern our party. We are not the current administration who plays loose with rules. We believe in rules, rules help us to be fair. Rules are how our national party conducts its business. So I, feeling very, very badly, that Michigan and Florida could not come back and be seated fully, believe that the 48 states who abided by these rules, the rules that we made, the rules that the full national committee, all of our colleagues in the party voted for, should be what we ultimately stand up for today. Thank you, madam chair.
HERMAN: Harold Ickes?
HAROLD ICKES, CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: I'll be brief, I just want to associate myself with the comments of Tina Flournoy and Alice.
HERMAN: Thank you. And the last speaker will be Mona Pasquil.
MONA PASQUIL, CA CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Thank you, madam chair. I also want to thank Alice who has been a long time mentor, but I also want to say thank you to all the thousands of people who took time to send letters, e-mails, send little gifts, oranges, everything and I also want to say first, though, that most of all we all respect the rules. I'm third generation Filipino, man, my parents raised me so strict, but I'll tell you something, one thing that we did learn and I learned as a child, is that there are rules and we live by those rules, there are sometimes though when we can make the case that sometimes you have to revisit the rules because of theism pact on our families. And so the reality -- The reality is we talk a lot about respect and we do respect all of the voters. We want you to know that. I want you to know that. And so I fully support you, Alice, in this because I believe in respecting the rules, but I also understand the reality of where we're at and I want to be responsible to these voters.
HERMAN: I believe the question's been called by Mike Steed (ph), are we ready for the vote? The vote will carry by two thirds, I'm being told by the parliamentarian, I don't think we need a vote to close the debate. There is no one waiting to speak so I don't feel that we need a vote.
Madam, are you OK with that? Without objection, then, we will proceed to vote on the motion that is on the floor. The motion as presented by Alice Huffman asks that the delegation of Florida be restored to full voting capacity at 100 percent. All those in favor of the motion as presented by Alice Huffman please signify by raising your hand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get 11.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eleven.
HERMAN: There are 12 votes in favor of this motion. All those opposed to the motion as presented by Ms. Huffman, please raise your hands.
I get 15. There are 15 votes opposed to the motion. Are there -- are there ...
MCCAIN SUPPPORTERS: Denver! Denver! Denver!
HERMAN: Can we please ask the spectators. We have not concluded our vote.
BLITZER: You heard some of those inside shouting "Denver," they are not happy that this motion to seat all of the delegates from Florida has failed. And they're saying, Denver, that's where the democratic convention is. Let's listen back to the co-chair.
HERMAN: The committeeman from Florida cannot vote on this motion. The motion fails. We will now move to a consideration of any lifting of the sanctions of the penalty as expressed in the Ausman challenge by Florida. And I turn to Mr. Dawson for that discussion.
RALPH DAWSON, DNC, NEW YORK Chairs, in view of the impressive and heart felt presentations by the representatives of the State of Florida, in view of the request of John Ausman that this committee consider reduction of the penalty by 50 percent, in view of the offer by Senator Obama's campaign to afford certain delegates and in view of the 50 percent reduction called for by rule 20 c (1) a. I move as follows. One, that all pledged delegate positions from Florida be restored provided that each pledged delegate shall be entitled to cast one half vote.
In addition, in addition, all pledged delegate positions shall be allocated, taking into entitled to cast one half vote. In addition, in addition, all pledged delegate positions shall be allocated, taken into consideration the results of January 28, 2008 contest as follows. The totals specifically will be for Senator Clinton 52.5 delegates. For Senator Edwards, 6.5 and for Senator Obama, 33.5.
HERMAN: For the record, you mean delegate votes?
DAWSON: Delegate votes. Delegate votes. Delegate votes. Further, all unpledged delegates shall be allocated by the call and shall be entitled to cast one half vote each at the convention. We further instruct the state party to conduct a process to fill the pledged delegate positions in accordance with rules 5, 6, 7 and 12, including specifically the candidates' right of approval.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Second.
HERMAN: It's been moved and seconded. Is there a discussion on this motion?
ALICE HUFFMAN, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Madam Chair, obviously this is not the motion that I would have liked. But I also know that we cannot leave here and not do something for relief for Florida. And I know that for many people who don't really understand how important rules are to rule makers, that this is really a big step on behalf of this committee to move to give the relief that you think you can do within the purview of our prerogative.
And so I would -- so I would ask my friend out there that just saw us go through the first vote that's the world's not perfect, but it's good. And when you can come here and you can leave with unity is what this party needs, is unity.
And you're about to see the best of this party in action. Because it is -- do not interrupt me and please don't do what people expect us to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You took away our votes.
HUFFMAN: We're giving you some back too.
And let me just tell you this, when we get this vote, we will leave here more united than we came. This is not -- this is not about each other's campaign. This is about finding a way to make whole to some degree -- can I tell you something? That vote failed. Do you believe in democracy? Then if you do, then here is the next best thing. And I want to ask all of you to respect it and to -- to respect it and to please conduct yourselves like proper men and women who understand that we must compromise.
That the world is not perfect and I'm going to ask for an aye vote.
HERMAN: I'm afraid you're going to ask, Ms. Huffman for ...
HUFFMAN: An aye vote. That's what I said.
HERMAN: All right. Thank you very much. The next speaker that I believe was Mr. Ickes who wanted to speak to the motion.
ICKES: Sure. Alice said everything I was going say. I'm disappointed that we didn't give them a full vote, but I'm going to vote for the half vote.
HERMAN: All right, I believe we are ready then for this vote. This vote will restore the participation of the entire Florida delegation so that we can understand what we're voting on, both pledged and unpledged delegates. Those delegates will be entitled to the -- to a one half vote at the convention. This was the request in the Ausman challenge. I should point out in the Ausman challenge, it also spoke to the difference of "may" and "shall" in the charter with regard to unpledged delegates. It was the belief of this committee that there was actually some merit to Mr. Ausman's position. And we recognize that because of the different points of view between the charter and the rules themselves, that it was probably appropriate to seize a middle position and to also to award the 50 percent penalty and to treat all delegates the same.
So, again, we thank Mr. Ausman for bringing this challenge, there you are, Jon. And this committee is now prepared to take the vote in support of your position with the stipulation that I have just made. All of those who are in favor of the motion as put forward by Mr. Dawson, please signify by raising your hands.
There are 27 votes for the Ausman position with Mr. Katz not voting. I believe that this would virtually qualify as a unanimous vote. Obviously the chair can't vote, but we certainly are delighted with this outcome. We will recognize --
For the record, the parliamentarian has instructed me that I must at least ask for any no votes. So if there are any no votes, would you please raise your hand? Are there any abstentions? And seeing none for a point of personal privilege from his state, I recognize Mr. Allen Katz.
ALLEN KATZ, FL OBAMA SUPPORTER: Thank you very much and very briefly, because we're all tired, I just wanted to point out that while I was not able to vote on this motion today, it's much more pleasant than the last time I was able to vote on a motion for Florida. So thank you all very much. And Jon Ausman extends his thanks as well.
JIM ROOSEVELT, DNC RBC CO-CHAIR: We'll now proceed to the Michigan challenge. And we will ask for a motion, if anyone would like to make a motion regarding the Michigan challenge. Maim Riley (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you Mr. Chair, madam chair. I move that all pledged delegate positions in Michigan be restored provided that each pledged delegate shall be entitled to cast one half vote. That's a pledged delegate positions shall be allocated as follows. Senator Clinton's 69 delegates casting 34.5 votes. Senator Obama's 59 delegates casting 29.5 votes. Unpledged delegates allocated by the call shall be entitled to cast 1/2 vote. The Michigan Democratic Party shall conduct a process to fill the pledged delegate positions in accordance with rules 5, 6, 11 and 12 of the delegate selection rules including candidate right of approval. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Chair, I second it.
HERMAN: It's been moved and seconded. Discussion? Mr. Fowler?
I'm recognizing Mr. Fowler.
DON FOWLER, CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE, SC: I want to say very briefly that this particular resolution was not one that I favored. It was not my first choice. It was -- it is the result of extensive discussions and negotiations, it does not represent the first choice of my candidate Senator Hillary Clinton, but I think in the best interests of the party, and this committee's deliberations and the best interests of electing a Democrat in November, that we should support this compromised resolution and I say that to my good friend Harold Ickes that I know that he's going to take exception to that, but Harold, this is my position. I respect and love you, but this is what I think we should do, Madam Chair.
ROOSEVELT: Mr. Ickes?
ICKES: Well, what's the saying? I rise in opposition, but I'll sit. I have already stated my views on this and I represent Senator Clinton in this regard. We find it inexplicable that this body that is supposedly devoted to rules is going to fly in the face of -- other than for our affirmative action rules -- the single most fundamental rule in the delegate selection process, that is fair reflection.
It is as I said earlier this morning, in my view, analogous to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, it is that fundamental and that bedrock. This motion was hijack, hijack, remove four delegates, won by Hillary Clinton, and most importantly reflect the preferences of 600,000 Michigan voters. This body of 30 individuals has decided that they're going to substitute their judgment for 600,000 voters.
Now that's what I call democracy.
ROOSEVELT: Anybody else who would like to speak?
ICKES: There's been a lot of rhetoric during this meeting about ...
ROOSEVELT: I'm sorry, I thought you were threw.
ICKES: There's been a lot of rhetoric during this meeting about democracy and on and on and on. I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for 600,000 voters. Was the process flawed? You bet your ass it was flawed.
It's hard to find an election in the United States that isn't flawed. Did a lot of people not vote? You bet your ass a lot of people didn't vote. Look at the voting stats. Do you want to say something Mr. Dawson?
DAWSON: When you're done.
ICKES: Look at the voting stats. This country has one of the lowest participation rates of democracies around the world. That is not an excuse. I never heard that advanced as an excuse. To overturn elections, to substitute their judgment for the voters. We wouldn't have, I don't think an election would stand a test that has been laid down here.
As Don Fowler as eloquently last night and the more wine was consumed, the more eloquent he became, pointed out that this is in the charter. This is not a bylaw. This is in the highest document of our party, this is in the constitution of our party. Fair reflection. You cannot take delegates from one candidate and give to another. Not only will this motion hijack four delegates from Mrs. Clinton, it will take 55 delegates from uncommitted status which is a recognized presidential status under our constitution and convert them to Barack Obama.
So I'm going to vote against the motion. And I hope others join me.
Finally, there's been a lot of talk about party unity. This let's all come together, wrap our arms around each other. I submit to you ladies and gentlemen, that hijacking four delegates, notwithstanding the flawed aspect of this is not a good way to start down the path of party unity.
Finally, one final word. We are -- Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the Credentials Committee.
MCCAIN SUPPORTERS: Denver! Denver!
ROOSEVELT: Mr. Heinz?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just have to say that it's not every day that we get to see Harold Ickes' stunned. I think that this proposal does fairly reflect the electorate in Michigan. I think that its origin, its genesis is the Democratic Party of Michigan, you heard the testimony today from Senator Levin, from our own Mark Brewer and from others about how this proposal was arrived at. It is fair, it is fair. It is fair.
It does fairly reflect the will of the voters of Michigan. And ...
ROOSEVELT: You are dishonoring your candidate when you interrupt the speakers. Please refrain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the testimony of Senator Levin and others, the primary upon which Mr. Icke's argument is based was flawed. The party, the state party went outside the primary to gather other information to come up with a conclusion that made sense. And we are now adopting that conclusion. And I want to congratulate Senator Obama for his leadership in helping to make this happen. This is a fair and good result and will ensure that both -- that Michigan along with Florida that will be represented at our convention. So I'm happy to support this.
ROOSEVELT: Mr. Ward?
EVERETT WARD, NC OBAMA SUPERDELEGATE: Mr. Chair and Madam Chairman, first of all I want to affirm that all of us sit at this table committed to the rules because we believe in a democratic process.
UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE: What about Iowa? New Hampshire? North Carolina?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You shut up.
WARD: One of the -- one of the issues and one of the reasons that I sit at this table ...
ROOSEVELT: Please allow the speaker to express the views. All sides are being heard.
WARD: One of the reasons that I sit at this table, Mr. Chair and Madam Chairman, is because of a person in this room. There's a person in this room by the name of Lawrence Guyot. Who in 1964, along with a lady from the great state of North Carolina originally by the name of Ella Baker, formed what was called the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.